How you can make the best of the Covid-19 restrictions in hospitality

The second wave of Covid-19 has led to local lockdowns and a three tier system in England with extra restrictions. Here’s some new ideas on how you can try to work around them.

Power of six

The six-people limit in indoor and outdoor settings is a blow, especially at Christmas when larger groups tend to come together. But you can think differently about this restriction and have fun with it.

Take inspiration from Gaucho and M restaurant chains. They’ve launched a Safe Six night every Thursday for six weeks. Diners arrive at 6pm and pick from a special menu where each dish and drink is £6. Customers must choose a minimum of three dishes.

The popularity of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme showed how much customers love a deal and how they’re happy to eat out midweek. Think about how you could off er a special menu with a play on the ‘rule of six’.

Waiter explaining menu

Expand your daytime

When the 10pm closing time was announced, for many it felt like yet another knock for hospitality. Although, since venues re-opened, the stats show customers have been going out earlier. 92% of drinks sales were pre-10pm between July and the curfew announcement. That’s 5% higher than last year (Source: JAT EPOS).

Regardless of the numbers, it’s worth looking at how you can boost your revenue elsewhere. Make more of daytime meals with deals or specials. Bottomless brunches are a fantastic option at the weekend. Take some great photos of a sample brunch and advertise on your social channels.

If you’re famous for your food, can any of your dishes be adapted into a takeaway or click and collect snack? Breakfast pastries or lunchtime food-to-go snacks can expand your offer. There’s a gap for kebabs, chips and burgers after a beer-fuelled night with the traditional shops not allowed to open after 10pm (at least for collections). Could you put on a late night menu where customers take a snack home with them at 10pm, or offer a delivery service after the curfew? Or customers could take a dessert home with them in a box?

Eggs benedict brunch
Salmon in takeaway box

Clear messaging is key

Most customers should know the dos and don’ts but with rules frequently changing, especially with local lockdowns, it’s important to keep your message simple and clear. When customers book, explain the current requirements, and text or email a reminder on the day they are visiting.

Kate Nicholls, CEO at UKHospitality, explains the rules on customers’ contact details: “In England, businesses are required to display a QR code for the NHS Test and Trace app. They should refuse entry to customers who won’t provide their details or give information that appears to be false.”

The restrictions are regularly changing so make sure you’re up-to-date with what’s happening in your area.

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